Reviews - Dark Service & One Lasts Hit, Linda Coles
A combined review of DARK SERVICE, and ONE LAST HIT, the 4th and 5th books in the Detective Amanda Lacey series from NZ based author Linda Coles, set in the United Kingdom where Lacey and her investigative partner Jack Rutherford are confronted by a very odd scenario the first outing DARK SERVICE; and Lacey and another investigative partner, Duncan Riley, deal with a threat that comes much closer to home in the second ONE LAST HIT.
DARK SERVICE first then. This was my first encounter with Detective Amanda Lacey and DCI Jack Rutherford (who has his own series starting out with HEY YOU, PRETTY FACE). It's based around an unusual crime, a perpetrator who stalks women, captures them, and then steals their hair. The threat is very real, and the outcome is very very odd. In order to pursue this weirdest of crimes Lacey and Rutherfod find themselves deep in the fetish-fueled areas of the dark web.
Now I will admit I've spent a bit of time peaking around the edges of the dark web and it's definitely a place for a lot of odd goings on. Luckily I seemed to miss the fetish area completely, but it doesn't take a lot of imagination to think that followers of all sorts of weird goings on will be lurking about there. In this novel, on the one hand you could say, well it's only hair, but on the other, one perversion can lead to another, and Lacey and Rutherford find themselves with a sting operation that goes wrong in a big way and gets very dangerous indeed.
Given that this is the fourth book in the series there's a chance there's a lot of backstory missing here, or perhaps it was what rapidly became a cast of 1,000's that came and went in a blink, but you'll need to have your concentration switched onto max for this novel. There were a few points at which I got hopelessly confused by some byways and sub-character plots that sort of went nowhere. Perhaps that's my biggest concern with the entire book - a bit of judicious editing of some of the side stories would have contributed to some focus for the central plot, and a heap of improvement in pace and maintenance of tension. Because of that lack of tension there were points where things felt a little uncomfortably voyeuristic, which is always a tricky balance when you're heading into what's mucky sexual territory for a lot of people.
When it comes to the second book ONE LAST HIT we are in, for want of a better description, less squeamish territory with prescription drug epidemics being a very up to the moment plot element. This time it's also bought very close to home with DS Riley's own wife being involved. Again you may find, as I did, that the by-ways and ancillary threads got in the road of the central plot points, creating a meandering narrative that kept dragging me away from the central elements, which was a pity as that idea - the collision of crime and a cop's home life - was particularly intriguing when it had the focus.
All in all, points to this author for exploring some really interesting plot elements in both these books, telegraphing potential for a really good police series if a tighter focus on those ideas could be achieved and the dialogue allowed to flow a little more naturally, giving good central characters some room to really hit their investigative and personal straps.
The dark web can satisfy any perversion, but two detectives might just pull the plug…
Taylor never felt the blade pressed to her scalp. She wakes frightened and alone in an unfamiliar hotel room with a near shaved head and a warning… tell no one.
As detectives Amanda Lacey and Jack Rutherford investigate, they venture deep into the fetish-fueled underbelly of the dark web. The traumatized woman is only the latest victim in a decade-long string of disturbing—and intensely personal—thefts.
To take down a perverted black market, they’ll go undercover. But just when justice seems within reach, an unexpected event sends their sting operation spiraling out of control. Their only chance at catching the culprits lies with a local reporter… and a sex scandal that could ruin them all.
A tough detective. A family on the rocks. The greatest danger may come from inside his own house…
Detective Sergeant Duncan Riley has always worked hard to maintain order on the streets of Manchester. But when a series of incidents at home cause him to worry about his wife's behaviour, he finds himself pulled in too many directions at once. After a colleague Amanda Lacey asks for his help with a prescription drug epidemic, he never expected the case would infiltrate his own family…
As Riley and Lacey trace the drugs to a dangerous prepaid app, a scary situation with Riley's children takes his marriage to the breaking point. Little does he know that his home and work lives are about to collide, and the detectives may not survive the aftermath.